Sir Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic is again pushing the date back when it might start carrying fee-paying passengers by another six months.
Newly-appointed Michael Colglazier, the company’s CEO, told analysts that the company was still obtaining various Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permissions and certifications.
Virgin said that these FAA tests, plus final test flights which will carry company staff to help replicate real mission expectations. “Presuming things go as expected on this fully crewed flight, we would then plan to fly Sir Richard Branson on the third powered flight from New Mexico, which we would plan to occur in the first quarter of 2021,” said George Whitesides (Chief Space Officer).
Whitesides said that the company was making progress on the building of its second ‘SpaceShipTwo’ vehicle as being more than 75 per cent completed and will be ready for in-flight testing next year.
As of July 30th, Virgin Galactic has received more than 700 deposit payments (at a reported £150,000 per passenger) from would-be customers. There were also 12 higher fee-paying would-be orbital space candidates. Passengers reportedly include Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber.
The company’s net loss for the quarter year was $63 million (and Q1 saw a net loss of $60 million).